She’s back—the 35-year-old free-spirited Oshawa-born blonde’s alter ego, special agent Jennifer “JJ” Jareau, returns for the ninth season of CBS hit thriller-drama Criminal Minds (premiering tonight on CTV). From her beach home in Southern California, she spoke to FLARE about her JJ-like traits and sharing the spotlight with her 4-year-old son Mekhai, along with her current fashion obsessions and Hollywood’s painless secret for younger-looking skin.
FLARE: What’s in store for JJ this season?
A.J. Cook: We don’t know too much about her so we’re going to take this opportunity to explain a little bit about her. [When she left in season six], she went away one character and came back a much more bad-ass version of herself [in season seven]. We’re going to fill in the blanks on what went on during that year that she was away working for the state department, what she went through and why she is the way she is now. And in the third episode, we are introducing our new section chief, played by Esai Morales. It turns out that these two know each other. They have quite a mysterious past.
FLARE: How do you balance your responsibilities as a mother and an actress?
A.J.C: It’s a delicate balance and it’s definitely a team effort. We decided to have my real-life son [Mekhai] play my TV son. It’s crazy! For the longest time I didn’t want to do it, but when the 100th episode came up and there was an opportunity for him to play JJ’s son, I thought, ‘This is such a cool and unique experience for him to be a part of.’ So he did it and he killed it. He was better than everyone else! It’s not work to him. He’s just coming to play with mommy and he knows people will give him candy.
FLARE: How would you describe your personal style?
A.J.C: I love fashion, but I live at the beach. I would kind of look ridiculous if I was rocking heels at the beach! In the summer I live in a bikini, cut-off jean shorts and flip-flops. But when I leave my house—my five-mile bubble radius here at the beach—I like to step it up. My staples include a great pair of jeans with a tank and really great shoes or boots.
FLARE: Since you don’t wear a lot of makeup, what do you use to maintain your skin?
A.J.C: I had this little moment where I felt like everyone knew something that I didn’t know. I felt like no one was aging. I started asking women who I thought looked good, and it turns out that a lot of people love Cindy Crawford’s Meaningful Beauty. I’ve been using that and I love it. It’s great for anti-aging, and it makes your skin really glow-y and beautiful.
FLARE: Tell us about your last fashion splurge.
A.J.C: I’m about to receive a new pair of Saint Laurent classic Janis ankle-strap platform sandals in black! I’ve been eyeing them forever. [They’re] beautiful!
FLARE: What’s your favourite piece of clothing in your closet right now?
A.J.C: I’m obsessed with leather jackets and leather in general right now. I can’t wait for fall and winter so I can finally wear all of it! I have the most incredible Barbara Bui jacket that I am obsessed with. It’s this beautiful rich blue color with quilted sleeves and zippers. I wish I could wear it every day.
FLARE: Who are your favourite designers?
A.J.C: My top three are Alaia, Balmain and Barbara Bui.
FLARE: Where do you like to shop when you come to Toronto?
A.J.C: There’s great fashion in Toronto. I feel like it hits you guys first before it comes [to California]. You guys are plugged in. Every time I’m up there, I just can’t wait to go shopping. I’ll hit up everything, [even the] Yorkdale scene. [I love] The Room at The Bay where they have people help shop for you and bring you beverages! It’s amazing.